Cruise ship Countess brings Jubilee cheer to disappointed Highland town

/, Cruise News/Cruise ship Countess brings Jubilee cheer to disappointed Highland town

The people of Fort William were left disappointed last weekend when a cruise ship failed to turn up as expected. Local businesses had taken on extra staff, and restaurants and takeaways doubled their food orders in anticipation of the arrival of 800 passengers on board Marco Polo.
The visit was called off when the ship’s captain decided he was not prepared to take the 580-ft long vessel through the Corran Narrows and into upper Loch Linnhe without the assistance of a qualified pilot.
Apologising for the disappointment, operator Cruise & Maritime Voyages assured Fort William that next Monday’s planned visit by sister ship Ocean Countess would be going ahead as planned. But that was before the ship broke down shortly after leaving Liverpool on Tuesday and had to be taken to Holyhead for repairs.
After work was completed, the ship resumed its cruise by 10.00 pm last night and is now en route to Invergordon, near Inverness. It will then call at Scrabster and – breathe a sigh of relief – Fort William, before returning to Liverpool via Rothesay.
Richard Bastow, Operations Director of Cruise & Maritime Voyages commented, “We are pleased for our passengers that the repairs have been promptly completed and that we can now resume our scheduled itinerary. We have a packed programme of special activities lined up to celebrate the extended holiday weekend including a Diamond Jubilee Gala Dinner and Royal Variety Show”.
About 100 passengers decided to leave the ship in Anglesey. The remaining 600 or so have been offered a 25 per cent refund, £50 per cabin onboard credit and a 30 per cent discount voucher off a future cruise.
Bastow added “We are delighted that a vast majority of passengers have accepted the offer and we will be sailing with around 85 per cent of our original passenger complement”.
The shopkeepers of Fort William will be just as pleased. Local councillor Thomas MacLennan said: “Decades ago Loch Linnhe played host to much bigger ships than the Marco Polo, for instance the 715ft SS Caronia, which had a draft of 32ft, a beam of 91ft and gross tonnage of 32,000.
“The Caronia’s passage through Corran Narrows was obviously achieved without the benefit of things like Global Positioning Systems, modern depth sounder technology and bow thrusters. For this reason I firmly believe Fort William can participate in this lucrative market place.
“Hopefully the coming visit of the Ocean Countess will be successful and mark a new beginning in this town’s future.”
A CMV spokesman explained: “Marco Polo was built as a Transatlantic liner and is 176 metres long. The master is not familiar with Loch Linnhe and felt nervous about Corran Narrows. The prime consideration is the safety of our passengers and crew on board – though we fully appreciate the disappointment the people of Fort William will have felt.
“All things being equal and with kind weather we will be there at Fort William all day on Monday.”

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:48+00:00 1 June 2012|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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